The National Grange is a nonprofit organization that engages in some commercial activities to support the civic, community and member service activities conducted by its nearly 2500 local, county and state Grange chapters across the nation. For this reason, our founders saw the need to protect our name and overall brand. National Grange leaders have received trademark protection for the GRANGE trademarks, which the National Grange has used since at least as early as 1876.
Today, we stand by our members to facilitate their educational, social, cultural and civic missions in their hometowns by actively defending our GRANGE trademarks, as we are required to do under U.S. law. These trademarks have grown to include our National Grange logo, as well as the Junior Grange and Grange Youth logos, NATIONAL GRANGE, NATIONAL GRANGE OF THE ORDER OF PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY and THE GRANGE FOUNDATION.
Businesses that wish to use the Grange name have successfully used our licensing model. From daycare centers, to housing developments, to restaurants, to prepared food vendors, we have many licensees throughout the United States. Licensees enjoy the benefits of our established national reputation while providing excellent products and services to their communities.
To learn more about the GRANGE trademarks and our licensing process, please read our Trademark Frequently Asked Questions page.
If you wish to find out more about our GRANGE trademarks and our licensing process, please contact our Trademark Protection Manager Leroy Watson by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Trademark since 1876
National Grange is the owner of U.S. Trademark Registrations for a variety of GRANGE Trademarks including GRANGE (U.S. Registration No. 1,872,429), NATIONAL GRANGE (U.S. Registration No. 1,817,984), NATIONAL GRANGE OF THE ORDER OF PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY (U.S. Registration No. 1,816,827), and the Grange Logo (U.S. Registration No. 1,824,368), and has been using its GRANGE mark since 1876 in connection with a variety of goods and services. National Grange has local, county and state locations throughout the United States.
2012-13 Trademark Report
This year saw important milestones in our efforts to protect our Grange trademarks. We have protected the Grange trademarks against unauthorized use in a broad range of goods and services, such as the restaurant and food sectors, real estate developments, retail stores, lodgings, and educational and entertainment facilities.
Financially, this was another challenging year for our trademark program. We continued to control costs by shifting responsibilities for trademark protection “in house”, under the guidance and supervision of our trademark attorney. As a nonprofit organization, we attempt to resolve cases in the least costly manner possible, preferably through amicable settlement communications with persons who wish to use Grange trademarks, or through administrative proceedings before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Our results, however, for the money we have spent is impressive for any trademark management program. Over the past four years, we have successfully resolved more than 50 trademark cases, or an average of more than one per month. This is a staggering number considering the number of legal notices we have had to prepare, legal responses we reviewed and negotiations that took place. The future trend is toward more cost effective handling of trademark cases.
Unfortunately this year we had to take the last resort step to protect our trademark by filing a Federal suit for monetary damages and injunction. A New York City based, for profit, agribusiness, calling itself Brooklyn Grange Farm LLC has been using our trademark GRANGE since early 2010. Brooklyn Grange sells produce, eggs and apiary products at the wholesale and retail level in the New York City. We offered Brooklyn Grange a cost efficient license. In the alternative, we asked them to cease using National Grange trademarks. Instead of negotiating in good faith, Brooklyn Grange expanded their business to include prepared meal service and all-you-can drink alcohol sales to consumers. Our complaint calls on the Federal judge to immediately rule in our favor and issue an injunction to require that Brooklyn Grange cease using National Grange trademarks, to turn over all advertising materials with GRANGE trademarks to us and fully reimburse the National Grange for all attorney fees and court costs. Filing a lawsuit is always our last resort. We take no joy in endangering a viable business that employs people and provides goods and services to their community. But make no mistake, National Grange trademarks are owned for the benefit and use of our members and local Grange chapters who utilize those trademarks to build on our 145 year old reputation of service to U.S. agriculture and rural communities. We will continue to defend our trademark rights actively, while continuing our efforts to educate and resolve trademark disputes in an amicable manner.
One of our strategies to avoid this situation in the future is to increase our trademark registrations in various areas of commerce where we have historical and contemporary use of the name GRANGE and our GRANGE LOGO. Our applications for trademark registration of GRANGE and the GRANGE LOGO were approved for cookbooks, farmers markets, catering and food-related services, fairs and exhibition facilities, community meeting and social function facilities, and wine making and viniculture services. These new registrations were added to our existing inventory of trademark registrations for affinity credit cards and restaurants as well as posters, publications, newsletters, brochures, pamphlets and other publications. We recently obtained GRANGE U.S. trademark registrations for clothing and for jewelry.
As we move forward, the most encouraging part of this work is “brand management.” Brand management refers to additional ways to generate new ideas and partnerships to market goods and services under the brand name GRANGE that will contribute to growth and development of the Order. This year we had more positive discussions with potential licensees than any time in the past. We are seeing good, viable commercial ideas to market new goods and services under the brand name GRANGE by entrepreneurs who want to work with us. Some of these entrepreneurs have ambitions to reach regional, statewide and even national markets while others are focused on serving their community. We should facilitate these entrepreneurial activities as much as possible while maintaining ownership and control of our intellectual property. Prudent management of the brand GRANGE will eventually provide additional sources of revenue to the Grange at all levels and will increase the recognition of our volunteer community service and non-partisan legislative activities as well.
As we strive to create an effective program to manage our most valuable asset, our good name, Grange members can look forward to using the lessons we have learned in trademark management to promote the growth and development of our Order.
National Grange Trademark Protection Manager
- What exactly is a trademark?
- How can you have a trademark on a word like “grange”?
- Do courts really uphold this?
- What are the general benefits of having a trademark anyway?
- Why would the National Grange want or need to have a general, nationwide trademark?
- Doesn’t trademark protection expire?
- But I still want to use it. Where does that leave me?
- Why would I have to obtain a trademark license?
- Do I have to obtain a license if I want to continue to use the term Grange in my business if I’m operating out of what used to be a Grange building?
- What do licensees have to do? Is there a lot of oversight? Do you have day-to-day interests in my business?
- Do I and my employees have to be, or become, members of the National Grange?
- What does a license cost?
- I’ve received a letter regarding unauthorized us of a GRANGE trademark. What should I do?
What exactly is a trademark?
Technically, a trademark can be any word, phrase, slogan, name, symbol, logo, package design or device that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods from one source from other sources. A service mark is any word, phrase, slogan, name, symbol, logo, package design or device that identifies and distinguishes the services provided by one source from other sources. Service marks are often referred to as trademarks. In this FAQ, our references to trademarks also refer to service marks.
How can you have a trademark on a word like “grange”?
In the U.S., words, terms or phrases that have been used extensively and over time to describe and designate distinctive goods and services can acquire trademark protection. One test of this distinctiveness is whether the general public and other sources of authority recognize the words, terms or phrases as being closely associated with particular organizations, goods and services. For example, nearly every American English language dictionary carries a description of the National Grange organization and its formation in 1867 as a commonly held definition of the word “grange”. Therefore the common definition of the word ‘grange’ in most dictionaries actually supports the designation of the term GRANGE as a trademark for the National Grange and its state, county and local chapters.
Does the National Grange maintain legal rights in the word “Grange”?
In the U.S. Trademark rights can be acquired and upheld by courts as either common law rights via consistent and long term use in commerce and via formal registration with the United States Trademark Office. Common law trademark rights are typically limited to the specific geographic area where the trademark is actually used. Registered trademarks are valid and enforceable throughout the entire country. The National Grange holds 14 separate U.S. registered trademarks for words, phrases, logos, or symbols that contain the word GRANGE.
What are the general benefits of having a trademark anyway?
The main reason for having a trademark is to enable the public to recognize and associate specific goods and services as originating with a particular company or provider. Trademarks are protected by law in order to serve this valuable source indicating function and protect the public by preventing confusion about the source of goods or services. Trademarks help assure that trademark owners, and not imitative competitors or counterfeiters, will benefit from the rewards associated with the hard work and good will of creating and marketing a consistent product or service.
Why would the National Grange want or need to have a general, nationwide trademark?
The National Grange owns and manages its trademark resources primarily for the benefit of the nearly 2500 local, county and state Grange chapters across the nation. Grange trademarks are commonly and constantly used by local Grange chapters to organize companies to provide commercial services and products that specifically benefit individual Grange members, such as cooperatives, mutual insurance companies and credit unions. Grange trademarks are also used extensively by local Grange chapters to identify buildings and facilities that they own and operate. Local Grange chapters, as with many non-profit entities, also use Grange trademarks to provide a wide variety of commercial goods and services to the public in order to raise funds to support the social, cultural, civic, educational and non-partisan political objectives of the organization. In today’ society, many for-profit corporations commonly utilize associations with non-profit causes to enhance their goodwill, market share and profits. In contrast, the National Grange and its affiliated chapters manage and use our GRANGE trademarks in order to engage in commercial activities which generate financial resources that support the non-for-profit objectives of the organization. Maintaining the public’s association with the trademark GRANGE and the social, cultural, civic, educational and non-partisan political objectives of the organization as well as fostering the benefits of economic cooperation among its members, is the primary goal of the National Grange Trademark Protection Program.
Doesn’t trademark protection expire?
No. Unlike patents and copyrights, there is no statutory expiration of trademarks as long as they continue to be used. A trademark registration can remain valid forever, provided that the registration is periodically renewed with evidence of continued use.
But I still want to use it. Where does that leave me?
Businesses that have unintentionally or inadvertently used the trademark GRANGE in their business name or in the name of their products, facilities or services are advised to phase out the use of the trademark GRANGE in their business or discuss alternatives with the National Grange, such as obtaining a license to use the trademark GRANGE. We have developed very cost effective measures for qualifying entities to acquire a license to operate a business and market products and services using the trademark GRANGE. Terms and conditions of these licenses vary, depending on the size and primary business lines of the business. Businesses of any size that attempt to register the term GRANGE with the U.S. Trademark Office will generally find that the National Grange will actively oppose such registrations.
How could unauthorized use weaken the GRANGE Trademarks?
Under general trademark law in the United States, the categories of unauthorized trademark use that are subject to general enforcement not only address circumstances where there would be an obvious conflict with the primary commercial use of a trademark by its owner and licensees, but also with unauthorized uses of the trademark that diminish the unique distinctiveness of the trademark in the eye of the public. The term for this is dilution. Thus, any use of the term GRANGE that could blur the distinctiveness or tarnish the image of the trademark GRANGE would be dilutive, even if there is little likelihood of commercial confusion. Because the National Grange manages its trademark resources primarily for the benefit of the nearly 2500 local, county and state Grange chapters across the nation in order to support the social, cultural, civic, educational and non-partisan political objectives of the organization, the National Grange generally considers an unauthorized use of the GRANGE trademark for commercial purposes as a dilution of our trademark rights.
Do I have to obtain a license if I want to continue to use the term GRANGE in my business if I’m operating out of what used to be a Grange building?
Yes. The legal right to use the trademark term GRANGE as a business name or as part of the name of any product or service offered by a business does not convey to the new owner of a formerly owned Grange property. Local and state Grange chapters do not have the authority to authorize a new owner of their building to use the term GRANGE in their business. Only the National Grange has the legal authority to grant a license to use the term GRANGE as part of a business. Any representation by local or state Grange officials or real estate agents to the contrary are ineffective. They will not be recognized or honored by the National Grange.
What do licensees have to do? Is there a lot of oversight? Do you have day-to-day interests in my business?
The National Grange standard license contract primarily addresses common sense provisions that protect the National Grange and assure that a business using the trademark GRANGE is operating within the highest customary standards for its areas of commerce. Specific provisions address obtaining all necessary government permits for the business and operating under all applicable laws, obtaining sufficient and customary levels of business insurance, providing the National Grange samples or examples of how the trademark GRANGE will be used in commerce by the business in order to assure that the presentation of the term GRANGE in the businesses marketing meets the highest commercial standards in their industry. Finally, the license contract also designates the specific state law that will govern the rights of the parties.
Do I and my employees have to be, or become, members of the National Grange?
No. Grange membership is a separate and distinct personal decision that a business owner or their employees make regarding their individual support for the non-profit, social, cultural, civic, educational and non-partisan political objectives of the Grange organization.
What does a license cost?
The National Grange generally includes an annual license fee in its standard trademark license contracts. The National Grange offers cost effective licenses, primarily to businesses that have unintentionally or inadvertently incorporated the trademark GRANGE into their business as a cost effective alternative to changing their business names. License fees are individually negotiated with each licensee to reflect their business plan, how long they have been in business and the projected growth in their business. Generally, the annual license fees to the National Grange have not been a major business cost to our current licensees.
I’ve received a letter regarding unauthorized use of a GRANGE mark. What should I do?
A business owner who has received a letter from the National Grange about unauthorized use of a GRANGE trademark should move to address the concerns addressed in the letter in a timely manner. The first decision that a business owner has to make is whether or not to remove the trademark GRANGE from their business name, facility, products or services. If the business owner wants to continue to operate with the name GRANGE, then the business owner should contact the National Grange’s Trademark Protection Manager, Leroy Watson, to explore options. The National Grange, as a matter of policy, seeks to resolve trademark matters amicably, without harm to persons who use the GRANGE mark unintentionally. Contacting a local Grange or State Grange chapter is not an effective strategy. Local and State Grange chapters are authorized to use GRANGE trademarks in their operations, but only the parent National Grange organization has legal authority to discuss and resolve unauthorized use of the GRANGE marks.
At any stage of the process, business owners who have received a letter can seek the advice of legal counsel in drafting their response to either the original letter or in considering a license that the owner may be interested in pursuing. Seeking the advice of legal counsel for any major business decision, especially one potentially involving trademark license contracts and complicated aspect of Federal trademark law, is a prudent decision.